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Cover of Social Problems: Continuity and Change v2.1
October 2021
Page Count: 
ISBN (Digital): 

Social Problems: Continuity and Change

Version 2.1
By Steven E. Barkan

Key Features

  • Many social problems texts leave students feeling despair about the persistence of such problems. As the subtitle of the text implies, this text stresses this persistence but also points to the possibilities for beneficial social change.
  • Although poverty and racial and gender inequalities are the subjects of their own chapters, these three sources of inequality inform the discussion throughout the text.
  • Each social problem is examined through the lens of three theoretical perspectives: functionalism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism.
  • Rich and useful learning structure:
    • “Social Problems in the News” stories begin each chapter to engage students’ attention and help them begin thinking about the chapter’s topic.
    • “Learning Objectives” begin each chapter section and alert the reader to important points.
    • “Key Takeaways” end each section to mirror the preceding Learning Objectives and highlight major points.
    • “People Making a Difference” accounts highlight the actions of individuals in effecting social change.
    • “For Your Review” boxes pose questions to prompt learners to think about key issues.
    • “Using What You Know” vignettes at the end of every chapter encourage students to apply what they have learned to a potential real-life situation.


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Social Problems: Continuity and Change v2.1 is suitable for undergraduate courses called Social Problems or similar titles such as Issues in American Society or Problems in Society taught in sociology departments in either two- or four-year colleges and universities.

Social Problems: Continuity and Change v2.1 explores the nature and extent of social problems in America while offering the possibilities for change. It emphasizes the structural bases for social problems, while discussing the real options for positively addressing these challenges. The book highlights applying social research and following examples of people and/or organizations who are bringing about change to effect positive results.

New in This Version

  • Updated and extensive coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, its disproportionate impact on minorities, low-income Americans, urban dwellers, and those in service occupations; resulting unemployment; unequal access to health care during the crisis; challenges of childcare in a lockdown; domestic violence and crime during shelter-in-place directives; heightened vulnerability of seniors, particularly those in nursing facilities; greater exposure to those involved with the prison system; and more.
  • Reflects the recent updates to Version 2.0, such as:
    • New “Social Problems in the News” stories for every chapter and many new “People Making a Difference” accounts.
    • New discussion of immigrant violence and social constructionism (Ch.1), new discussion of health care for undocumented immigrants and social change resulting from policymaking (Ch. 1); updated poverty data (Ch. 2), issues with making SNAP work (Ch. 2); new material on antebellum slavery (Ch. 3), new discussion of health issues arising from increased ethnic prejudice in current political climate (Ch. 3); updated data on gender inequality (Ch. 4); updated data on  discrimination against the LGBTQ community (Ch.5); added coverage of food insecurity among older Americans (Ch. 6); updated statistics on drug and alcohol abuse (Ch. 7); updated crime and criminal justice data (Ch.8), new material on racial differences in police brutality victimization (Ch. 8), new “Applying Social Research” box on immigration and crime (Ch. 8); new data on sexual behavior (Ch.9); updated family data and new research on cohabitation (Ch. 10); updated education data (Ch. 11); new work and labor data (Ch. 12); and new information on health and health care (Ch. 13).
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Instructor’s Manual

Instructor’s Manual

The Instructor’s Manual guides you through the main concepts of each chapter and important elements such as learning objectives, key terms, and key takeaways. Can include answers to chapter exercises, group activity suggestions, and discussion questions.

Instructor’s Manual

PowerPoint Lecture Notes

PowerPoint Lecture Notes

A PowerPoint presentation highlighting key learning objectives and the main concepts for each chapter are available for you to use in your classroom. You can either cut and paste sections or use the presentation as a whole.

PowerPoint Lecture Notes

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Test Generator - powered by Cognero

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Test Bank Files for Import to Learning Management Systems

Test Bank Files for Import to Learning Management Systems

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Sample Syllabi

Sample Syllabi

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Steven E. Barkan University of Maine

Steven E. Barkan (PhD State University of New York at Stony Brook) is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Maine. He is the author of four FlatWorld titles (Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World comprehensive and brief versions, Fundamentals of Criminal Justice, and Social Problems). Steve has also authored more than 35 journal articles and book chapters in publications such as the American Sociological Review; Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion; Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency; Justice Quarterly; Mobilization; Review of Religious Research; Social Forces; Social Problems; Social Science Quarterly; and Sociological Forum. Steve is past president of the Society for the Study of Social Problems; served on the council of Alpha Kappa Delta, the international sociology honor society; and is past president of the Textbook and Academic Authors Association (TAA). Steve also received an Outstanding Faculty Award from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Maine and, from TAA, two Textbook Excellence Awards, the President’s Award, the Pynn-Silverman Award for Lifetime Achievement, and induction into its Council of Fellows. Steve sincerely hopes that faculty and students enjoy reading his books in the formats of their choice and welcomes comments at

Additions & Errata

9/9/22 Additions:

Several changes were needed based on the summer 2022 decision the Supreme Court made to no longer protect access to abortion. Updates were made in the following subsections in Section 9.3: “A Brief History of Abortion”; “Abortion Data”; “Public Views about Abortion”; and “Reducing Abortions and Making Them Safe.”

12/1/21 Errata:

Preface: Text was reorganized and some v2.0 content was restored.
Section 2.1: Stats in second bullet of Key Takeaways were updated.
Section 2.2: Stats in the paragraph above Figure 2.4 where updated.
Section 5.3: Errant "is" was deleted from this sentence under the "Discrimination in Employment, Housing, and "Public Accommodations" section: "Before the Supreme Court ruling, it was entirely legal under federal law . . ." And the text in third bullet of Key Takeaways was updated.
Section 10.1: Under the "Children and Families" section, restored first paragraph from v2.0 content and revised second paragraph.

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